During winter months, ice skating and ice hockey lessons or classes find their way onto many family calendars. Even if the little ones are not necessarily primed to become the next Michelle Kwan or Wayne Gretsky—learning to ice skate is a fun way to keep the kids active when the Central Ohio weather is not so inviting for many other outdoor activities. If you are new to the world of ice skating, there are a few things that parents should know about ice skating lessons.
Both lesson participants and spectators must dress appropriately. Indoor ice rinks are chilly places. Obviously, the child participating in the lesson will need to dress for winter temperatures on the ice—but, many parents fail to realize that heated waiting areas are limited at most Central Ohio facilities and the spectator areas for the classes are often simply unheated, stadium seating around the ice rink. Bring along some warm weather apparel—just in case you are stuck viewing alongside the rink.
Plan entertainment for non-skating siblings. Younger siblings often find themselves as unwilling spectators at a host of lessons and sporting events. Facilities offering ice skating lessons often, unfortunately, offer little entertainment for those tagging along aside from perhaps a few non-age appropriate video games or a concession area. Parents should realize that both the layout of ice rinks and limited spaces make it difficult to amuse an active toddler or younger sibling for 30-60 minutes. Plan ahead and bring books, games and activities to keep little spectators busy. Even parents visiting without siblings may wish to pack a book or plan to play a few smartphone games during the lesson to pass the time.
Understand the rink policies and instructor expectations. Are parents responsible for providing ice skates or are rental skates included in the class fees? Are parents expected to remain onsite during class time in case of an emergency? As with any sport or activity, there are specific guidelines and requirements to consider before simply dropping the youngsters off for a class and disappearing. There is nothing worse than watching a child arrive for class alone without the proper equipment to participate—or suffer an injury and not have a parent nearby when one is expected.
Don’t skip the recommended protective equipment for skating. Most ice skating classes recommend helmets and even knee and elbow pads for beginning skaters. Even skaters fully able to consistently remain upright on the ice may hit a patch of damaged ice that causes them to lose footing. While the added gear may seem excessive to some parents—it’s better to protect the knees, head, and elbows than face a costly trip to the local urgent care center after a slip or fall during a class.
Take advantage of complementary practice sessions. Most ice rinks that offer lessons in the Columbus area allow lesson participants to attend at least a few public skate sessions free of charge during their scheduled lesson period. Take advantage of those free ice opportunities. While the child may learn a number of valuable skills during class time—the extra practice time is a great way to hone those skills in a safe environment--and to get the most out of your class fees.
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Disclosure: The author is not compensated by the manufacturer, venue or service featured in this article. The information provided is done so as a service to readers and should not be viewed as an endorsement by the author.